Our two weeks at Donggala came to an end and by that time we were ready to move on and excited about the next few stops we had planned.
Spending this initial time at Prince John Dive Resort at the outset turned out to be a wise move; it was a familiar environment in which to wind down after the stress of the previous year and the months and weeks leading up to leaving Australia. We also used this time to firm up our plans for the next few weeks.
Prince John is definitely at the top end of what we can afford. All bungalows have a view over Palu Bay where you can catch the sunrise if you wake early enough. The resort is set in lush tropical gardens and the bungalows are all spacious, each with luxury open air bathrooms and a large terrace furnished with cane tables and chairs and the obligatory hammocks from which you can gaze across the water.
Breakfast and dinner are included in the room rate and the food is an excellent mix of Indonesian and western cuisine. Every Thursday evening a barbecue is held on the beach and there are enough delicious tuna steaks and enormous tiger prawns to feed an army. And of course, being a German run resort, beer is readily available and served ice cold.
Staying here for a couple of weeks gave us time to try to acclimatise to the relentless heat and humidity but in reality all that meant was that we started to move a bit more slowly. Temperatures are always higher just before the rainy season and just like everywhere else in Indonesia, the rainy season was late and the heat was debilitating. We did have some rain and a few thunderstorms but nowhere near as much as was needed and Palu and Donggala were still hot, dry and dusty when we left.
The Wooky was able to put into practice speaking Bahasa Indonesia and the Indonesian staff who remembered us from last year were impressed that he had learnt so much since then when our vocabulary had been limited to “Selamat pagi” (good morning) or “terima kasih” (thank you). By comparison he was positively fluent now!
As planned, I undertook my Advanced Open Water diving certification so that by the time we left I had 23 dives noted in my logbook and I had overcome, or at least was able to control, my irrational underwater anxiety attacks.
Half way through our stay the Wooky was ill so a planned two day excursion to Marantale was cancelled but we had an eventful boat trip diving on the other side of the bay. And after about 10 days we ventured out to the waterfall just outside Palu and it was good to start getting out and about. Although the climb up to the waterfall was a bit hard going for our old bones the butterflies were amazing and it was a nice place to chill for a while.
When we repacked at the end of the two weeks much clothing was discarded and we left behind our wetsuits but our backpacks remained heavy.
A fairly good internet connection (intermittent thunderstorms permitting) was available in the bar/beach area and this meant that we could research the next few weeks of our trip, make bookings and decide on time frames. We had only a vague itinerary up until this point and this flexibility was a luxury. However we were mindful that Christmas and New Year were coming up so although it was low season in Sulawesi it was likely to be busier over the holiday period.
As our plans began to take shape we were keen to hit the road and when the time came we were ready to leave Donggala with its holiday comforts and eager to start travelling again.